The Buffalo Sabres have agreed to a new one-year contract with forward Johan Larsson.
According to CapFriendly.com, Larsson’s new contract will pay him a sum of $950,000 next season. Larsson would have become a restricted free agent this summer. The forward’s previous contract for the 2015-16 season was also a one-year deal which paid him $800,000.
The 2015-16 season was a year in which Larsson earned a more regular role with the Sabres. The youngster appeared in 74 games with Buffalo this season. Larsson had 68 career games prior to this season and he has gradually improved in each of the four seasons in which he played games in the NHL.
The Dawn of Johan Larsson’s Hockey Career
Larsson has a strong work ethic, is a versatile forward, and plays a gritty game. He relied upon this strong work ethic, versatility and grit throughout his hockey career on the road to the NHL. The youngster contributes in a variety of ways on the ice and this aspect of his game led to his successful early hockey career in Sweden.
A native of Lau, Sweden, Larsson played junior hockey for Brynäs IF in the J20 SuperElit league. According to EliteProspects.com, Larsson began playing in this league during the 2008-09 season with the goal of refining his game in the hope of playing in the professional Swedish Hockey League. In 83 career J20 SuperElit games, Larsson tallied 25 goals and 58 points.
Larsson got his first opportunity to join Brynäs IF in the Swedish Hockey League during the 2010-11 season. He played in 43 games that season where he scored four goals and eight points. The 2011-12 season was a big one for Larsson. Brynäs IF won an SHL Championship and Larsson played key role in his team’s success. For his efforts, he was was named SHL Rookie of the Year. Larsson also was captain of Team Sweden and the team won the gold medal in the 2012 World Junior Championship.
The Minnesota Wild took notice of Larsson’s early hockey success. Minnesota selected Larsson during the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft with the 56th overall pick. Larsson played in 62 games for the Houston Aeros, the Wild’s former AHL affiliate, and he appeared in one game for Minnesota during the 2012-13 season.
The Buffalo Sabres and Johan Larsson
As the Buffalo Sabres moseyed down the path toward a rebuild, former GM Darcy Regier began the process of moving veterans in exchange for draft picks and prospects. In April 2013, he traded former Sabres’ captain Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild for a big return that included Johan Larsson.
Larsson’s time in Minnesota was very limited but he found some success with the Houston Aeros. During his first season playing for the Aeros in the AHL, Larsson tallied 15 goals and 37 points. The Sabres acquired Larsson while he was playing on a three-year entry level contract and he would finish the 2012-13 season playing for the Rochester Americans.
Over the course of the next two seasons, Larsson split time between the Sabres and the Americans. The youngster continued his success at the AHL level with Rochester by scoring 31 goals and 85 points in 102 games. Meanwhile, the Sabres were rebuilding and scoring as we all know was at a minimum. During the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, Larsson appeared in 67 games for Buffalo scoring just six goals and 20 points.
The 23-year-old found some success with Buffalo this season. He set a career high by lighting the lamp 10 times and five of these tallies were game winning goals. Larsson finished the season with an average time on ice of 14:49 and with a goal and four points on the power play. Head coach Dan Bylsma utilized the forward in a variety of situations including faceoffs where Larsson won 51.1 percent of his draws.
Larsson finished the season strong. He scored seven of his 10 goals and 10 of his 17 points during an 18-game stretch that spanned through March and April. The Sabres made big strides during the 2o15-16 season and Larsson followed suit. Next season will be another opportunity for Larsson to continue his development and help his club in their quest to emerge as playoff contenders.
Tim joined The Hockey Writers in July 2013. He began his tenure with THW by covering the Minnesota Wild and he now writes on the Buffalo Sabres. Tim completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University at Buffalo. In addition, he is a published historian and a Baltimore Orioles Contributing Writer for LegendsOnDeck.com. Tim’s work for THW has been featured on sites such as Yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @TOHockeyTHW